(LOS ANGELES) This Independence Day, regenerative living/hemp farming expert Doug Fine wants you to consider this: “What is more patriotic than working to ensure coming generations can harvest amber waves of hemp grain? Hemp’s seed is a superfood!”
Many of our founding fathers grew hemp. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, James Madison, and George Washington planted hemp crops for uses ranging from clothing to fishing nets to rope. On July 3, 1790, Jefferson wrote, “It is vastly desirable to be getting under way with our domestic cultivation and manufacture of hemp, flax, cotton, and wool.”
Hemp farming continued at Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate until nearly two decades after President Washington’s death in 1799. Then, in 2018, Fine was invited to participate in the first hemp harvest on Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in 200 years. In the premiere episode of his TV series American Hemp Farmer Fine, dressed in colonial clothes, takes us with him as he learns to harvest the crop with a colonial-era sickle.
“Our nation’s first President was passionate about hemp and food independence,” Fine says. “And, even back then, returning combat veterans realized the therapeutic benefits of getting outside on a farm and growing new life in a quiet environment—and today there are veteran-operated farms from Maine to Hawaii that explicitly aim to help address issues like PTSD for veterans.”
And that doesn’t even take into account hemp’s usefulness as a textile, since its fantastically strong fibers were used to make better quality rope, sails, shelters, clothing, and more for American soldiers.
The patriotic nod to hemp was well-documented in the US Department of Agriculture’s World Word II era pro-hemp film Hemp for Victory, which proclaimed that “American hemp must meet the needs of our Army and Navy, as well as of our industries” and “at the government’s request, patriotic farmers planted 36,000 acres of hemp—an increase of several thousand percent.”
After the war, hemp quickly became demonized for another half century. The government has since changed its position about hemp, adopting a law in 2018 to make it federally legal to cultivate in all states. Fine has grown it every year since, and continues to influence opinion by setting an example as a hemp farmer and spreading the good word about hemp, food security, and regenerative living in his articles, books, and public appearances.
“This time the farmers are in charge,” Fine says. “Today we have a Farm Aid, not a Dentist Aid. The return of regenerative farming is going to make farming lucrative again, and sequestering carbon will allow humanity to glide smoothly into the post-petroleum future.”
This is especially relevant today, with climate change, droughts, and energy sources being hot topics. Hemp’s usefulness in rejuvenating soil could help in all of these areas—something that even Washington and Jefferson noted.
In 1773, the latter wrote, “When earth is rich it bids defiance to droughts, yields in abundance, and of the best quality. I suspect that the insects which have harassed you have been encouraged by the feebleness of your plants; and that has been produced by the lean state of the soil.”
Fine is the author of six books including American Hemp Farmer (2020, Chelsea Green Publishing) and the Boston GlobeBestseller, Farewell, My Subaru. His writings and expertise have led to media appearances (Conan, The Tonight Show, BBC, CNN) as well as a TED Talk (TEDxABQ) and testimony before the United Nations regarding international drug policies. He has raised goats and cultivated superfoods (including hemp since its 2018 legalization) for more than a decade and taught his methods of cultivation and seed building at Vermont’s Sterling College and online at DougFine.com.
Most recently, Doug has cultivated hemp for food, farm-to-table products and seed-building in six U.S. states. His own hemp seeds have been used to clean contaminated soil in a New Mexico University study. Fine further spreads the word about culture and climate change with his award-winning journalism, which includes contributing to the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times, and has been a long-time correspondent for National Public Radio from five continents. In March, he spoke at SXSW’s Climate Change Track as well at NoCo Expo.
None of us would be here today, he says, if not for the regenerative lifestyle-and it’s only recently that humanity stopped living that way. So Fine hopes that we can reactivate that “instinctive regenerative awareness” and start working together to save the planet. Experienced, grounded, and a keen wit, Fine is the perfect person to shepherd us through the conversion.
Now in production and seeking distribution, his American Hemp Farmer television series, which is based on Fine’s best-selling sixth book of the same name, secured its opening sponsorship with Dr. Bronner’s, a top selling brand of soaps. As with the book, the series will see Fine—a former suburbanite—sharing his hard-won regenerative hemp farming expertise, which he admits is rooted in trial and error.
“We don’t all have to become farmers. This time, farmers can lead the way while everybody supports them through lifestyle tweaks. Buying their locally-sourced products, getting our produce from community-supported food co-ops or farmer’s markets, or even working in community gardens are all valuable contributions.”
As the American Hemp Farmer series moves closer to greenlight, Doug Fine is available for interviews and further speaking engagements in fall/winter 2022. A website of Fine’s print and radio work, United Nations testimony, television appearances and TED Talk is at dougfine.com. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @organiccowboy.